Ann S. Bowers ’59, a technology pioneer and longtime philanthropist, whose gifts to Cornell totaled more than $100 million.

Ann S. Bowers ’59, Cornell CIS college benefactor, dies at 86

Ann S. Bowers ’59, a pioneering technology industry executive and longtime philanthropist whose transformational gift established the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, died Jan. 24 at her home in Palo Alto, California. Bowers was 86.

Bowers’ influential gifts, which totaled more than $100 million over three decades, included support for the construction of Gates Hall – the current home of Cornell Bowers CIS – as well as the new building currently under construction adjacent to Gates. Bowers’ generosity also supported Cornell faculty and students in the liberal arts, science, technology, computing, engineering and math, including endowed professorships and research scholarships.

A Foremost Benefactor – one of Cornell’s most generous donors – Bowers served as trustee, presidential councillor, and as a member of the Cornell Silicon Valley advisers, which she chaired for more than a decade. The Ann S. Bowers Gallery at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art honors her longtime support of the museum, including a 2009 donation toward the construction of a new wing.

James Mazza, then-associate vice president of alumni affairs and development (AAD), presents the 2013 Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award to Ann S Bowers '59. 

“Ann was a trailblazing woman in tech, and I was fortunate to meet her during the first year of my presidency at a meeting of the Cornell Silicon Valley advisers and learn about her fascinating career,” President Martha E. Pollack said. “We are deeply grateful for her devotion to and her vision for Cornell, which helped us establish one of the best computing and information science colleges in the world.”

“Ann was a forward-thinking leader who dedicated much of her life to fostering and creating environments where technologists and innovators could thrive,” said Kavita Bala, the inaugural dean of Cornell Bowers CIS. “Her commitment to building a culture of creativity, excellence and collaboration will forever be remembered, especially at Cornell where her generosity enabled the founding of the pioneering college that bears her name.

“It was a highlight of my career,” she said, “to partner with Ann and President Pollack to establish the first college at Cornell to be named for a woman.”

Ann Bowman Schmeltz was born in November 1937 in Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in English at Cornell, where she served as her dormitory’s president and a yearbook editor, and earned an honorary Ph.D. for public service in 2000 from Santa Clara University, where she was a trustee emerita.

Bowers led human resources at Intel Corporation in the 1970s and was one of Apple’s first vice presidents in the 1980s.

She was a founding member of the President's Council of Cornell Women, and served on the Herbert F. Johnson Museum Advisory Council, and the Life Sciences Advisory Board. In 2013, she received the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, which honors alumni who have given long-term volunteer service to Cornell throughout the broad spectrum of alumni organizations.

Kavita Bala, dean of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, fourth from right, with students at Commencement in 2023. Bowers’ 2020 gift established the college that now bears her name.

Bowers was chair of the board and co-founding trustee of the Noyce Foundation, established in 1990 in memory of her late husband, physicist Robert Norton Noyce, who co-invented the integrated circuit and co-founded Intel. The Noyce Foundation, which ceased operations in 2015, focused on improving math and science instruction and learning in K-12 public schools.

She served on the boards of San Francisco State University; Grinnell College (Iowa); the American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco); EdVoice, of Sacramento, California; the Exploratorium, of San Francisco; El Camino Hospital; Investment Company of America; CoGenerate (formerly, of San Francisco; and Technology Center of Silicon Valley, of Sunnyvale, California. She gave the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center the largest individual gift in its history in support of its CMS Two residency program, which was renamed the Bowers Program.

She was a board member and past board chair of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and an active member of 100Kin10, a network that sought to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021. As a former member of the board of the Silicon Valley Joint Venture Education Initiative, Bowers helped Silicon Valley schools redesign educational programming for the 21st century. She was named Philanthropist of the Year by the Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2005.

At Cornell, Bowers supported faculty across a range of disciplines through the Bowers and Noyce professorships. These faculty enable innovative learning and discovery in the liberal arts, science, technology, engineering and math. Professors funded through Bowers and Noyce endowments include:

  • Charles Danko, the Robert N. Noyce Assistant Professor in Life Science and Technology (College of Veterinary Medicine);
  • Traci Nathans-Kelly, senior lecturer and the Robert N. Noyce Director of Engineering Communication in Cornell Engineering;
  • Alice Fulton, the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English Emerita (College of Arts and Sciences);
  • Natasha Holmes, the Ann S. Bowers Associate Professor in the Department of Physics (A&S);
  • J. Robert Lennon, the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English (A&S); and
  • Michelle Smith, the Ann S. Bowers Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (A&S).

She expressed her deep commitment to encouraging undergraduate students through the Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholarships; the Bowers Cornell Tradition Fellowship; The President’s Council of Cornell Women Cornell Tradition Fellowship; and the Bowers Engineering Scholarship.

Bowers is survived by stepchildren William B. Noyce, Pendred (Penny) Noyce, Priscilla Noyce, and Margaret Noyce. Memorial plans have not yet been announced.

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli